“We live in a country that does not have family-oriented social policies. So, I often say, no one was ever harmed by having too much support. But people are definitely harmed by not having enough support.” said Arianna Taboada, Author, Entrepreneur and Maternal Health Advocate.
But what if leave can become your springboard to build a stronger career? One that elevates your effectiveness by forcing an upgrade to your support infrastructure. Arianna helps female founders do exactly this. With integrated maternity leave plans.
It’s critical for business owners to get this right. But these smart processes translate across settings. And with intentional planning, you can emerge from a big life transition, like maternity leave, with your health and career intact.
Family and Professional Growth Can Coexist
Yes, it’s possible to grow a family and business at the same time. But doing so, while maintaining your mental and physical health, can be tricky. So, take the space you need to plan. Arianna became intrigued with the pregnancy stage of Motherhood early in her career. During her training, as a public health social worker, she served many young parents in challenging circumstances.
She said, “There is really interesting science around how pregnancy is this incredible intervention opportunity. Because people are motivated and willing to make changes.” It’s also a catalyst for wanting sustainable work. She said, “People are highly motivated to take things off their plate and train others. Because it means that when they come back, that they have some choice around how they spend their time.”
Start Early With Your Strategic Plan
Arianna said, “Postpartum, emotions are heightened. And there’s also the very real possibility, that someone might be having a mental health crisis. So, as a provider it meant that I was on edge all the time, worrying about what was ‘normal’ postpartum behavior or a symptom of crisis.”
She shifted her work from postpartum to the critical window of pregnancy and parental leave planning. “I found that I could be a lot more thoughtful. It’s where I am in my zone of genius,” Arianna said. And she’s evolved the planning process. To free up space, without the high cost, to your health or career wellness.
And Just. Let. Go
Arianna said, “You’re never just going to turn on the leave button. It’s not like you are 100% ‘on’ in your business, then 100% on leave and then 100% back.” She explained that this transition can be gradual. And tailored to an individual’s needs and work.
The US is one of the few countries without mandated paid family or medical leave. So, it’s usually not a great process for parents, because we’re socialized to work like machines. But it’s not healthy or helpful to approach your leave this way. It can feel fraught to shift work. But learning how to scale yourself and unload nonessential projects, is a rare gift.
Choose Your Best Possible Health
It’s also a wonderful excuse to prioritize your wellbeing. Arianna created a framework for this. “It’s focused on what optimal health looks like across 3 different axes: biological, psychological and social,” she said. Brilliant! When pregnant, we often think about our physical health, only to the extent that it effects the baby. But you can be more holistic.
And as Arianna wisely points out, strong mental health is essential to thriving as a new parent. And ultimately, to resume professional life. She also helps reorient health as the top priority for Moms. She said, “So, if you are experiencing pain or are having a mental health crisis, that has to be addressed before the business task that you had planned on your calendar.”
And Identify Your Care Team
Arianna asks, “What are the family, friend and deeper community supports you have? And what are the professional supports that you might not have but should know about? It’s useful to know which lactation consultants, perinatal health specialists or pelvic floor therapists are in your area.” Because the time required to search, vet and schedule with providers can be daunting. And it’s easy to forget that poor health is corrosive to everything else. Including your family and career.
Arianna said, “Your health is extremely important to your business. Because of my training, I don’t let up on that!” She helps women visualize and name their care team. She explained, “And how that’s going to align with their checkpoints as they return to work.”
Revisit How it’s Going
Arianna explained, “There are interesting ways that practices from the business side kind of flow into personal practices. And the personal can also flow into the business. I find that it helps to think about a 90-day plan to ramp back up, with check ins throughout. And that maps pretty well to the timeframe of a trimester!” In her book she outlines how the disconnect, between the US and the rest of the world, normalizes an abnormally short recovery. “The global standards for postpartum care cover a variety of things. And people in the US feel lucky to get a 6-week visit! So, I focus on that visionary state.” Which includes a longer time frame to evaluate post-partum needs. And to check in with a provider or designated accountability person.
And Map out Asking for Support
“Another guiding principle is social support and the importance of not doing things in isolation. It’s both recognizing what are the social supports around us. And then making the explicit asks. Which for me, is much harder. I can name all the people who I could turn to. But asking for things becomes the hard part,” Arianna shared. Right! Because seeking help can feel very vulnerable. So, she works with people to set it all up in advance. She said, “I walk people through a support mapping exercise for all the places you want support. And you fill it in, with who you are going to ask, and what exactly you are going to ask them for.”
Expect Better Outcomes
Many thanks to the talented Arianna Taboada!
Order her new book, The Expecting Entrepreneur. And follow her great adventure on her website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
Grateful to the amazing parents who have participated in our research study. Have you chimed in yet? Share your pandemic experiences! How are the latest changes affecting your life? It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
Employers, let us help you transform your workplace into an environment where caregivers thrive. Learn about Allies @ Work.
Arianna Taboada, MSW, MSPH (she/her/ella) is the founder of The Expecting Entrepreneur, a consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs design parental leave plans that meet their business model and personal needs.
Arianna speaks and writes about parental leave and respectful maternity care as an issue of social justice, human rights, and economic equity. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the International Journal of Health Equity, Advances in Social Work, and Ethnicity & Health. She is a co-author of Degrees of Difference: Reflections of Women of Color on Graduate School, published by The University of Illinois Press in 2020, and The Expecting Entrepreneur is her first solo-authored book.
Arianna lives, works, and plays with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit www.ariannataboada.com to learn more.
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